The Income Tax (I-T) Department on Monday conducted searches at the houses of three local businessmen considered close to senior Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leaders in bypoll-bound Padampur Assembly seat of Odisha’s Bargarh district.
The searches, which started early morning in the presence of armed CRPF personnel, are being conducted at the residences of Md Sajid in Hanumanpada, Manabhanjan Sahu in Sahupada and Gaju Agrawal in Shastri Chhak. They are involved in rice mill and transporting business. The three businessmen were supporters of late BJD MLA Bijaya Ranjan Singh Bariha, whose death necessitated the bypoll on December 5. Bariha’s daughter Barsha Singh is the BJD candidate in the bypoll.
In an apparent retaliation, the GST authorities of the state government, accompanied by the state police, conducted searches at six places, including a cloth store, petrol pump and pharmaceutical store in Bargarh, Padampur, Paikmal and Jharbandh areas. The businesses owned by Gobardhan Agrawal, Nikhil Agrawal and Sunil Agrawal, who are considered to be BJP supporters GST authorities said they are examining various bills and documents of the proprietors to detect if there was any GST evasion.
Sajid’s advocate Prasant Mohanty, who tried to enter latter’s residence during the raid, was stopped by CRPF, following which he filed a police complaint.
Padampur sub-divisional police officer Bibhuti Bhusan Bhoi told The Indian Express that the I-T sleuths informed the local police about the raids in the morning.
The raids have also triggered a political slugfest with ruling dispensation accusing BJP of using central agency to create an atmosphere of fear. Senior BJD leader and former minister Susanta Singh said BJP is using the I-T fearing defeat in the bypoll. BJP leader Prithiviraj Harichandan said the central agency conducts searches whenever they receive any credible information and it has nothing to do with the byelection.